I desperately wanted to love this one. The whole premise sounded fantastic! But, while this wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, it just didn’t wow me as much as I would have liked.
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius. That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race. Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
First off, I read a TON of YA Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic books. And this is one of the reasons I didn’t like this one: it read like a mish mash of all these other plot lines from other novels. There was this Hunger Games vibe to the world mixed with The Girl with All The Gifts kind of vibe. Then the characters felt very much like a Katniss, mixed with a super smart girl, with a dad like Sherlock Holmes (the Benedict Cumberpatch one). There were all these tendrils, these character types and plot twists that just made it seem like a blending of these books.
Secondly, a lot of the book happened in a convenient way for me. There were actions that kind of just happened to the main character, leaving her in a bind, which conveniently got worse or better. It just seemed too picture perfect, or “we’re running away and our one person with military training happens to get lost, and we run into a haunted house” (which never happened, but it’s this similar thing to me).
The Parts I Liked
Both of these being said, the ending part of the book redeemed a lot of its flaws for me. Something I love reading about in books is that moment when we have to realize our parents are humans, fallible, and have made, sometimes, awful mistakes. How do we reconcile our versions of them with the truth? It got way interesting and many other twists about cyborgs, politics, and technology. Like the concept of DRM food was amazing. There are little touches like this scattered throughout the text, that make me feel like I’m playing a game of hide and go seek with some real depth. At the same time, it was very much like – this plot is clearly winding down, so what is going to go colossally wrong so that we will have a sequel?
(Also is it wrong that I only really started liking the protagonist at the ending? And one thing I want to mention, is that I really dug the whole “this virus makes us into cannibals and look how inhuman we are” thing going on the entire book. It made me think in a very fun way, if it feels right to have the words fun, cannibalism, and inhumanity all together. Something else that disappointed me is that gene hacking is the coolest thing and it has so many possibilities, and besides trying to be super soldiers and changing our hair, that’s the extent of where we go with that?!)
If you haven’t read that many of this genre, there’s a good chance you’ll like this book (and if you’re okay wading through a bunch of science that still has me running in circles). But if you’re like me, a seasoned-esque pro of this genre, it may read a little too similar or too convenient.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.
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